Today marks the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.
Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.
Four passenger airliners operated by two major U.S. passenger air carriers (United Airlines and American Airlines)—all of which departed from airports in the northeastern part of the United States bound for California—were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists.
Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed. Debris and the resulting fires caused partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, including the 47-story 7 World Trade Center tower, as well as significant damage to ten other large surrounding structures.
A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense) in Arlington County, Virginia, which led to a partial collapse of the building's west side.
The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was initially flown toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers thwarted the hijackers. 9/11 is the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.
Operation Yellow Ribbon was commenced by Canada to handle the diversion of civilian airline flights in response to the September 11 attacks in 2001 on the United States. Canada's goal was to ensure that potentially destructive air traffic be removed from United States airspace as quickly as possible, and away from potential U.S. targets, and instead place these aircraft on the ground in Canada.
Gander International Airport, which was the first North American airport on the transatlantic route, took in 38 wide-body aircraft, mostly heading for U.S. destinations. The number of passengers and crew accommodated at Gander was about 6,600. The population of Gander at the time was fewer than 10,000 people.
Suspicion quickly fell on al-Qaeda. The United States responded by launching the War on Terror and invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had failed to comply with U.S. demands to extradite Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives.
After evading capture for almost a decade, Osama bin Laden was located and killed in Pakistan by SEAL Team Six of the U.S. Navy in May 2011.